By Erik Graham
What makes a good personal statement?
Such a simple question with so many simple answers: Tell me a story. Tell me what got you to this point. Tell me what makes you different. And, of course, tell me why you should be admitted to my law school. You can write a personal statement about whatever you want but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Do pay attention to the prompt. If the school asks you to answer a specific question, make sure your personal statement addresses that inquiry and responds accordingly.
- Do have some brainstorming sessions to develop a clear topic. You want the story you are telling to interest the reader(s) and engage them.
- Do write about you. A good personal statement is unique and tells me how you think, what you feel and who you are. Make sure the statement gives me the opportunity to get to know you.
- Do write an engaging opening sentence or paragraph. Make me want to read more!
- Do make sure you have a point. Your personal statement should tie into why you want to go to law school, why you are a good candidate or what you will contribute to the incoming law class.
- Do spell check.
- Do edit.
- Do ask others to review. Make sure to ask them if your point is coming across clearly.
- Do advocate for yourself.
- Don’t repeat your resume.
- Don’t focus on your weaknesses. The exception to this is if you are discussing a weakness that you have overcome and your statement clearly shows how you have done this.
- Don’t be fake or superficial. Use a genuine voice and be truthful.
- Don’t say your mom and/or dad said you would be a good lawyer.
- Don’t tell me which legal TV show you were inspired by.
- Don’t write more just to add more words or fill pages.
- Don’t discuss your lifelong desire to attend one law school and mistakenly name a different one.
Remember, your personal statement is the only opportunity on the application to tell me who you are; don’t waste it! Best of luck with your applications and I look forward to reading your personal statements soon.
Erik Graham, Esq., is the Assistant Director of Admission for Suffolk Law School.